Veteran competes in triathlon, preps for Paralympic Games in Rio

CHICAGO -- Swim. Bike. Run. Competing in the Chicago Triathlon is a bucket list item for many and can take months to prepare for.

For Melissa Stockwell, competing in two relays on Sunday is just a prelude to her trip to Rio de Janeiro next week for the Paralympic Games.

"I feel my life is better than it's ever been. I've done more with one life than I ever would have done with two," said Stockwell, a paratriathlete.

Stockwell's road to Rio is one of triumph over tragedy. An Iraq war veteran, Stockwell lost her left leg when a roadside bomb exploded as she was leading a convoy in Baghdad in 2004.

"I realized early on that I was one of the lucky ones 'cause I had my life," she said. "I wanted to live my life for those who didn't come back and just to prove that whether I had one leg or not I could still get out and do the things I wanted."

Twelve years later, Stockwell is not just getting ready to compete in her second Paralympic Games, she's also co-founder of a Chicago-based non-profit that empowers others with disabilities to participate in triathlons.

Kristen Casserini, who suffered a traumatic brain injury four years ago, is one of them. On Sunday, she was one of 50 dare2tri athletes competing in the Chicago Triathlon.

"It's incredibly empowering to not just not feel alone, but you're a member of a team with people with similar experiences and support each other that way," Casserini said. null
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